By Lora-Marie Bernard
FOUR bills sponsored by Galveston County legislators, including one hailed as an innovative patient care model, were signed into law by state governor Greg Abbott early on Friday morning.
State representative Greg Bonnen, right, sponsored house bill 1945, which received praise from direct primary-care physicians who had been straddled under insurance-company and government bureaucracy. It has become law.
The law, dubbed “direct primary care”, is hailed as an innovative model for delivering and purchasing health-care services. It gives physicians and their patients an alternative to the third-party fee-for-service system.
In most instances, patients will pay a flat fee to have unlimited access to their doctor – in person and by phone or e-mail – for a full range of comprehensive primary-care services.
The law allows patients to pay frontline primary-care physicians a fixed monthly fee, like a gym membership.
The byzantine health-insurance programs used now pay physicians a certain amount for each test, diagnosis and procedure, which drives up cost and encourages overtreatment.
The law allows for the fixed fee to operate outside Texas’ insurance regulations. It receives support from Texas Academy Of Family Physicians and Texas Public Policy Foundation Center For Health Care Policy.
Senate b 455 authored by senator Brandon Creighton creates a three-panel judicial court to hear matters of statewide policy at the petition of the attorney general.
By 2020 the fiscal impact is expected to be $158,000 to the general-revenue fund. The law amends the state’s government code. Upon bill enactment, the attorney general will be able to petition the chief justice of the state’s supreme court to form a special three-judge court to hear certain cases.
Under the arrangement, the ad-hoc court will preside over lawsuits involving any claim challenging the finances and operations of the Texas public-school system and any claim involving the apportionment of districts for the Texas house of representatives, senate, congress, education board or state judicial districts.
Upon enactment, the bill will require consolidation of all related pending cases in another district or inferior court in Texas with the cause of action before the three-judge court.
Senator Larry Taylor’s SB 498 windstorm bill will allow more homes coverage under the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.
Upon enactment, the bill will repeal a provision in the state’s insurance code that has prohibited TWIA from covering structures that did not meet local building codes in certain circumstances. The bill also removes the December 31 expiration date for other homes that don’t meet certain inspection requirements for TWIA coverage.
Finally, Taylor’s coastal-barrier-study-committee bill was also signed. It extends the joint interim committee, comprised of certain members of the senate and house of representatives, to study the feasibility and desirability of creating and maintaining a coastal barrier system.
Upon bill enactment, the committee will be empowered to report its findings and recommendation before December 1, 2016.